By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The annual Sheep Shearing Festival drew thousands of people to the Common yesterday.
Jeffrey Coco, co-chairman of the Festivals Committee, estimated that as many as 10,000 people came to see the demonstrations of sheep shearing and herding, visit the booths of numerous crafters and enjoy many different kinds of food. Coco said this year’s crowd surpassed last year’s turnout, which he placed at 7,500.
Coco added that he was not trying to pull the wool over this reporter’s eyes.
Randy and Maggy Miller of North Andover, who attended the festival with their 14-month-old son, Michael, said they particularly enjoyed the herding demonstration.
“We loved the Border collies,” Randy said.
The Millers, along with hundreds of others, watched David Kennard, of Wellscroft Farm, Harrisville, N.H., direct his Border collies in herding a collection of sheep and goats. The dogs followed Kennard’s commands with precision, even when he told them to slow down.
The dogs kept their eyes trained on the sheep and goats at all times. They would not move unless ordered to do so by Kennard.
When Kennard asked the audience what makes herding several sheep and goats into one group, only one person had the right answer. Lucy Kisova, a Franklin School fifth-grader, explained that sheep and goats have different pressure points on which the dogs push.
“You’re a smart young lady,” Kennard said.
Lucy is the daughter of Ladislav and Ivana Kisova.
Andrew Rice, of Brattleboro, Vt., offered several demonstrations of the fine art of shearing a sheep.
A big attraction yesterday, of course, was Cowpie Bingo, in which a well-fed cow lent by Richardson’s Farm of Middleton strolled among 625 squares. Vivian and Kerri Croteau won the grand prize of $1,000 when the cow did her business on a square they purchased for $10.
Another 10 winners were selected at random from those who bought squares. Winning $100 each were Judy Dyment, Mary Ann Florio, Nancy Langevin, Ann Ginder, Pat Heafey, Nancy Ryan, John Tieuli, Dennis Sheehan and Katie Brown.
The 10th $100 prize went to the town clerk’s office. The money raised by Cowpie Bingo will pay for the Santa Parade.
The food vendors and crafters were pleased by the large numbers of people who flocked to the Common yesterday. Leslie Doherty, a stained glass artist who does business as Ways of Color, said the money she earned yesterday will help pay for a therapeutic art program she offers to at-risk youth at her studio in Amesbury.
“I’m looking forward to coming back next year,” she said. Besides Coco, other Festivals Committee who worked on the Common yesterday included Co-Chairwoman Joan Heafey, James Fazio, Genevieve Koenig, Martha Salisbury, Connor Lincoln and Sharon Coco.